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The Creative 'Essentials'

Last week, I had a Zoom call with a few friends, and an exceptionally talented Artist and a well-regarded Art Director was among us. During the conversation, my Artist friend mentioned with regret that for the first time in her life, she felt like a 'non-essential' citizen. The terms 'essential' and 'non-essential' epitomize the profession's importance in the age of COVID-19.

In the weeks that followed, many creative professionals in Los Angeles were laid-off and furloughed due to the pandemic. Then, on June 14 in Singapore, The Sunday Times — the Sunday edition of The Straits Times —listed the "top five non-essential jobs" by market researchers Milieu Insight: 71% of the 1000 people survey respondents thought artists were non-essential occupations, topping the 'non-essential' list. These results created an uproar in Asia and got me pondering once again.

What would the world be without these creative 'non-essential' professionals?

Artists, Musicians, Designers, Writers, Editors, Painters, Sculptors, Potters, Ceramic Artists, Printers, Photographers, Multimedia Artists, Performance Artists, Media Artists, Graphic Designers, Fashion Designers, Architects, Set Designers, Art Directors, Movie Directors, Actors, and all the other creative thinkers.

Mardi Gras: 14 x 18 oil on panel.

The figure in this painting represents the power of artistic freedom—both relishing in the theatrical performance and the joy of creative expression. Art By Gwen Ballantyne

Creating Visual Art is one of the defining characteristics of the human species. Creative people help synthesize visual cues into experiences, experiences initiate thoughts, thoughts translate into ideas, ideas transform into actions, and actions produce results. Unconsciously, this creative energy is seeping into all that surrounds us in our daily lives, from the design of shoes, cars, to even the iPhone app.

It took humans more than 50,000 years of synchronized visualization to create the world we see and experience today. From paintings of animals and stylized symbols in European caves, such as Chauvet in France, to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the ancient civilization has gradually paved the path of humanity's creative journey.

Hence, we have to stop the devaluation of Art in society and motivate future generations to be creative thinkers. However, schools continue to cut the budget for art education, feeding into the narrative that art education is worthless. But, creative thinking is the foundation of all innovation. Steve Jobs, credits the calligraphy class he took as a student at Reed College, in influencing the design of products at Apple Inc. and media at Pixar Animation.

Golden Apple:  8 x 8 oil on panel.

The artist was playing with the idea of finding the beauty and magic in the everyday world—the golden apple, a priceless creation, is hidden inside a delicious bounty from a farmer’s market. Art By Gwen Ballantyne (@gwenballantyne_art )

Let us pursue to encourage the next generation of creative thinkers. Gratefully, my sister and I, the two designers, were raised in the household of two doctors who were also talented artists. Let us, as a society, be non-judgmental and encourage arts, commerce, science, and creative thinking on an equal footing.

Next time you listen to soothing music, watch the favorite Netflix series and shelter in place in the comfort of your house – let us be grateful to the many creatively professionals that broke the social norms of being 'non-essential.'

Art is like the air we breathe that we can't see and without which we can't survive. Art is a feeling that can't be touched but felt. The process of transforming imagination ('the mind's eye') into objects and spaces we can experience is the unseen (super) power of a creative mind. Let us all use our respective superpowers to overcome the pandemic and design a sustainable, inclusive, and beautiful world.

Art By: Gwen Ballantyne, Instagram@gwenballantyne_art

Written By: Vinita V.Pugal,

Edited By: Darryl Carter

Design. Collaborate. Impact

"The art of storytelling inspires us as a medium of expression for planning and design".

Facebook & Instagram - @designodal

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